How to Avoid Being Kissed This Valentine's Day
My dachshund Oscar was a mean dog. Not to me, mind you, but he was mean to everybody else.
I attribute it to his being run over by a car when he was a puppy.
I'm amazed Oscar survived, but he escaped needing only a metal rod in his hip. I paid a couple of hundred of my hard-earned, waitressing-at-a-mediocre-restaurant dollars to have him fixed up.
I couldn't be mad at the person who let my leash-only dog run loose out of the house; she seemed to be plenty mad at herself. Besides, it was money I was happy to pay, having received Oscar as a 16th birthday gift just a few months before.
When my sister handed me a wiggly gift box, I knew instantly it contained a live animal. I knew because I'd seen plenty of wiggly gift boxes in my family. It's not uncommon for us to wrap up animals in a box and give them for special occasions.
There was the year we gave my daddy a pot-bellied pig for his birthday. From the look on Daddy's face when he opened the box, you'd have thought we gave him a bajillion dollars.
He and Rudy - my daddy, nee Rudolph, named the pig after himself - were inseparable. To my mother's -horror, Rudy stayed in the house except when my daddy walked him around the yard on a red leash. Daddy bottle-fed that petite pig with a look of adoration I never saw on his face when he fed his grandchildren.
Years later, my sister presented my daughter with a wiggling box on Easter Sunday. Since Patrick, Isabella and I already had two dogs, I crossed my -fingers the box did not contain a dog. I crossed all my fingers hoping it wasn't a cat because I am not of the feline -persuasion.
Yet a cat would have been better than what I saw when Isabella opened the box. It was a baby duck. A duck! Our goldfish pond was insufficient space for a duck. What's more, I was pretty sure Pinehurst had some regulation -prohibiting pet ducks.
Before I could go full-on crazy at my sister, she told me the duck would be -living at her house on her pond and that Isabella would have visiting rights. Whew.
Unlike the duck, though, Oscar was a most welcome gift. Not only did I adore my black and tan wiener dog, but his mean streak came in most handy with boys.
You see, Oscar was attached to me and very protective of me. He was always at my side and wouldn't let anybody come near me. Nobody. Not even my parents. He would snarl something awful and would have surely bitten anybody dumb enough not to back away.
Then one day, a light bulb went off in my head, and I saw that Oscar could help me fix a problem I was having. Specifically, it was the problem of how to conclude a date, that awkward moment when one person leans in with a pucker as the other extends a hand to shake.
It was after a particularly snoozer of a date that Oscar revealed his usefulness. I opened the front door to my house, and Oscar bolted out, making a run for -freedom. He made it down a couple of porch steps before I grabbed him. I tucked him under my arm, his little head resting just under my chin, and turned to say goodbye to my date.
Uh oh. There was that familiar lean in, that glazed look that precedes a smooch.
Before I could think how to handle the situation, Oscar decided for me. He lunged toward my date, barking and snarling menacingly. He destroyed any affectionate feelings the boy was -harboring, and I was able to tidily wrap up the date.
From that day on, Oscar was my date ender. All I had to do was pick up my sweetie and let him say goodbye for me. Awesome.
Oscar, my hero, saw me safely through the last three years of high school. I am forever indebted to him, and I hope that somewhere out there is a dog as mean as he was because, in nine years, I'll need one.
Just guess what I'm buying my -daughter for her 16th birthday.
Contact Melanie Coughlin at -firstname.lastname@example.org.
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